In my constant search for Xbox games that don’t encourage my children to take chainsaws to aliens’ faces, I have occasionally bought the random E rated game just because it’s on sale. Beyond Eyes is one of those games.

Beyond Eyes is brought to you by the publisher of Worms, the adorably cute game where cartoon worms try to murder each other with bazookas, hand grenades, and the occasional exploding sheep. In other words, expectations were pretty high, despite the mediocre reviews the game has generated on Metacritic. So I gladly plopped down my digital wallet and ponied up the $7 dollars to buy it, with an excited Kella waiting with baited breath by my side.

Then we waited. And waited. And waited. I desperately need a faster internet connection to make my gratification more instant.

About an hour later, Kella and I were finally able to pull up Beyond Eyes and watch a TV picture book story of a little girl being blinded by fireworks. Fourth of July is now officially ruined. Thanks Team 17.

The premise of Beyond Eyes is that the little girl is able to fight through both her blindness and anxiety to search for a lost cat. The game plays and the story unfolds a bit like a children’s book, which is absolutely perfect for my purposes.

Though it does intensify Kella's desire for a cat.

Though it does intensify Kella’s desire for a cat.

In terms of gameplay, Kella could actually play it without too much help. The player controls the little girl (Rae) by moving around the gamepad stick and,┬ávery occasionally, pressing the A button. While Rae encounters a few difficult twists and turns, there’s no concern that she’ll fall off a cliff or get kidnapped or shot fifty six times and have to pick up a medical kit that magically heals her or anything like that. In fact, there’s no dying at all in the game.

Beyond Eyes, by the way, is absolutely gorgeous. The idea is that, since Rae is blind, she can only “see” a bit of the world around her based on touch and sound. And sometimes she’ll hear a sound and assume its one thing, only to feel it and discover it’s another.

beyond eyes chicken

Kella loved starting the game, as well as the idea of finding the missing cat Nani. Kella even repeated Rae’s cries for the cat. Even better, Rae’s blindness opened up the topic for discussion, which I thought was great.

After about a half an hour of slowly moving Rae across the screen without finding Nani, Kella handed me the controller. “Let’s play something else,” she said.

I was having a similar thought. And that, unfortunately, is a real problem with Beyond Eyes. It’s easy to play, it’s beautiful, it allowed the kids and I to talk about blindness in a way that helped them understand it. It’s also a bit boring. There’s little drama, Rae moves too slowly with no way to run (which thematically makes sense, but was still a source of annoyance), and both Kella and I found ourselves frustrated with puzzles that were more about plodding through the right white space than any actual skill.

We did eventually finish the game, which only took about two hours, but also took multiple sittings. Beyond Eyes is┬ádefinitely a fantastic idea. I don’t regret spending the money and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to other parents. It just needed to be fleshed out a bit more.

One word of warning: it’s not just the fireworks scene that’s a bit depressing, the ending is as well. Nothing like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, which was absolutely heartbreaking, or To The Moon, which actually made me cry despite being a 16-bit text based story, but it was definitely sad, especially compared to the lightheartedness throughout Rae’s search. Just a heads up if you don’t want your kids playing anything sad ever.

On a related note, I found this article about how to prepare your kids to watch Bambi’s mother die. You’re welcome.